Graduate Students Could Suffer Under New GOP Tax Plan

UMass Boston, as seen from I-93.

The GOP tax plan debate had sparked controversy after President Donald Trump announced in mid-November that taxed tuition waivers for graduate students will be exempted.

A tuition waiver for grad students will now be taxed based on their tuition benefits and will count as a source of income.

These tuition waivers are usually granted based on the strengths of a student’s application and their economic status, especially for those who are minorities. The GOP tax bill will also lower taxes for American corporations and families. 

Conversations have taken place about this new tax plan at the University of Massachusetts Boston. 

Speaker of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at UMass Boston, Lucas Henrique, said, "It appears that it will negatively affect UMass Boston students, undergrad and grad, and their families."

"...the House bill would make them count the value of that tuition as taxable income," Henrique added. 

According to The Boston Globe, the University of Massachusetts system estimates that nearly 5,000 of its students receive tuition waivers. Many students have expressed anxiety to their university officials asking if there are other ways for them to receive the same benefits without relying on tuition waivers. And officials have expressed uncertainty on how to respond.

University of Massachusetts President, Marty Meehan, said in a statement that the new tax plan “threatens the financial stability of universities and specifically and unfairly targets college students, particularly graduate students.”

However, this is only a portion of the GOP’s tax plan. At the Senate level, the tax plan’s purpose, according to President Trump, is to strengthen the economy, but that is apparently not the case. According to The Tax Policy Center (TPC), the GOP tax plan will not strengthen the economy and can add $1.5 trillion to the current $20 trillion federal debt.

At the same time, the TPC found that the Senate bill’s benefits will only have an impact in the short-term. And those who benefit from the tax plan in the country are those who are in the top 5 percent by 2019, while it offers almost no benefits to middle and lower classes.

In addition, middle-class families will not benefit from the plan, not even by 2027, according to TPC. The TPC reasoned that the legislation could possibly also change as taxes fluctuate and adjust every year.

The House of Representatives approved the tax plan last month in a 51-49 vote and was considered a victory for Republicans and President Trump.

Through state and loan tax deductions, those who will be greatly impacted are graduate students, according to Henrique. After the GOP tax plan passes this upcoming Christmas day, graduate students could suffer.

"For graduate students, the situation would be even worse. A lot of grad students do work. They help professors with their research, they teach. In exchange, they get free tuition and a stipend," he said. 

"Essentially, that would double or triple the taxes they pay. In the end, this is a bad deal for anyone wanting to attend or go back to college," Henrique added. 

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